Why Jordan Should Be Proud of their Canaan Dog

Jordan’s national animal is an Arabian Oryx. Wait, Or-what? Yes, you heard me an Oryx. They look like this…

Beisa Oryx

If you’ve never seen one, well, neither have I. I’m sure they’re great, but I’m here to suggest a new national animal for Jordan, the Canaan dog.

canaan dog amman jordan
Naji, a Canaan dog rescued off the streets of Amman

Why should the national animal of Jordan be the Canaan? I will explain all of the reasons why Canaan dogs are great below, but the main reason why I feel this way is because Jordanians need to have pride in the Canaan! They need to stop seeing it as a vicious creature on the street to abuse, or a pest to call the Greater Amman Municipality to come and shoot. The Canaan needs to be protected and quite frankly, glorified, because it is freaking awesome!

canaan dog jordan

Before I go into all of the reasons, let’s learn more about the interesting history of the Canaan…

About the Canaan

Today in Jordan, the Canaan is seen as a feral pest, but if these same people that want the Canaan out of their neighborhoods knew the history of this extremely intelligent dog, maybe their opinions would change.

A Brief History of the Canaan*

From about 3,000 BCE, the lands of ancient Palestine and Phoenicia were referred to as “Canaan”, and the dogs of these ancient communities were called Kelef Kanani, which literally means “Canaan Dog” in Hebrew. The Kelef Kanani were used as herders and alert dogs for the people of these lands until the invasion of the Roman conquerers (about 330s BCE). When the people were pushed away from their lands, they no longer employed the Canaan dogs and so they retreated into the desert and carried out a feral lifestyle. There are some exceptions, as the Canaan were still used (and to this day) by nomadic Bedouin tribes and the Druze people.

bedouin canaan dogs
Canaan dogs with a Bedouin shepherdess. Image source: canaandogsofanacan.com

It wasn’t until 1935 that the Kelef Kanani came back into the human community for more than just with the Bedouins and Druze. The world was on the cusp of WWII and the Middle East Forces employed Canaan dogs as sentries, message deliverers and mine detectors. In 1948, the Palestine Kennel Club had registered 150 Canaan and by 1965, the Canaan made it to the United States when 4 dogs were imported into California and they established the Canaan Dog Club of America.

So as you can see, the Canaan is no newbie to the area and it’s obviously a smart and easy to train dog, so why the bad rap nowadays?

Canaan vs. Baladi

Canaan is the breed of the region of the Levant, which includes present day Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Lebanon and Syria. In this region, in Arabic, you will hear the local dogs refered to as baladiBaladi means literally that, “local”. So the dogs you see with Bedouin shepherds and roaming the streets across the Levant are Canaan dogs, but baladi Canaan, meaning they are also mixed with other breeds, so not purebred Canaan. In my opinion, who cares if a dog is purebred or mixed (I always prefer mixed breeds!), but I wanted to make the distinction about Canaan and Baladi dogs.

Now back to why this region should be proud of the Canaan.

Why the Canaan is great

mama dog adopt amman
The Canaan is a GREAT family dog

Besides being highly intelligent, alert, vigilant, devoted, docile and affectionate, Canaan dogs are excellent companions because they

  • Are gentle with children, devoted and protective
  • Get along with other dogs, if they’re brought up with them and socialized extensively
  • Get along with cats when they are raised with them
  • Adapt well to apartment living
  • Have an independent personality (they can keep themselves entertained)
  • Are aloof toward strangers, never aggressive
  • Are territorial (makes them good alarm dogs as they will bark a couple of times to alert that someone new is there)
  • Don’t suffer from any known hereditary health problems
  • Are easy to train and house-train
  • Are good for new owners
  • Do not grow to a large size (about 18-25 kilos as adults)
  • Are playful
  • Don’t require extensive exercise (a couple of walks and playtime and they are happy, but this doesn’t mean you can’t give them more)
  • Are not hyperactive
  • Do not shed a lot
  • Are Odorless and don’t require frequent bathing

Adopt a Canaan

myammanlife adopt puppies
Me with 2 Canaan pups I fostered. They both were adopted by loving families!

If the reasons above have convinced you that the Canaan baladi dog is the perfect fit to form part of your family, then seriously consider adopting one from a local shelter or organization. Never buy one from a breeder as there are thousands of perfectly suitable dogs for adoption across Jordan and the entire region. If you live outside of Jordan and want to adopt a Canaan, the following groups can also help you find your forever friend. If you can’t adopt one, you can also help out by fostering (more info on fostering here).

Canaan Rescue Groups in Jordan

To adopt a Canaan dog, you can contact the following rescue groups to learn about the dogs they have available for adoption.

Facebook Groups in Jordan for Canaan Rescue

There are also other groups in Jordan where you can find many rescued animals for adoption. However, I highly recommend you check with the above groups before you consider adopting an animal.

*Details about the breed and history found here

15 thoughts on “Why Jordan Should Be Proud of their Canaan Dog

  1. Start with educating kids in school to be PROUD OF THE COUNTRIES DOG! Teach and preach! Be proud of your country and treat everything associated with your country with RESPECT! No more abuse on the dogs or cats! Any animal deserves to live in PEACE!


    1. 100% agree! The Humane Center for Animal Welfare does a great job of educating children when they come for school field trips. This past summer we had our Summer Camp kids go.


    1. Hi there! The Canaan dog is native to the Levant. As mentioned in the article “Canaan is the breed of the region of the Levant, which includes present day Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Lebanon and Syria. “


      1. Thank you for your informative post. We went to the pet store and they gave us a canaan. I have owned many dogs but I’m completely impressed with this one. I thought at first she was just a miracle dog- no barking, chewing, licking, shedding, masha Allah. I hope she’ll not be too friendly though to be a guard dog for our new house.


  2. Also please add the International Street Dog Founation (ISDF) outside of Chicago, IL USA. They work with Jordanian rescue workers to bring dogs to the US. I just adopted a Cannan puppy from the streets of Jordan whose mother was killed. You are right on all accounts about the breed. She amazes me every day with her intelligence, love of children and other dogs, and her beauty. She barely sheds, barks, and has never chewed anything. She’s the best dog I’ve ever had. I recommend this wonderful breed to anyone looking for a near perfect breed of dog.


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